Parvalbumin + and Npas1 + Pallidal Neurons Have Distinct Circuit Topology and Function

J Neurosci. 2020 Oct 7;40(41):7855-7876. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0361-20.2020. Epub 2020 Aug 31.


The external globus pallidus (GPe) is a critical node within the basal ganglia circuit. Phasic changes in the activity of GPe neurons during movement and their alterations in Parkinson's disease (PD) argue that the GPe is important in motor control. Parvalbumin-positive (PV+) neurons and Npas1+ neurons are the two principal neuron classes in the GPe. The distinct electrophysiological properties and axonal projection patterns argue that these two neuron classes serve different roles in regulating motor output. However, the causal relationship between GPe neuron classes and movement remains to be established. Here, by using optogenetic approaches in mice (both males and females), we showed that PV+ neurons and Npas1+ neurons promoted and suppressed locomotion, respectively. Moreover, PV+ neurons and Npas1+ neurons are under different synaptic influences from the subthalamic nucleus (STN). Additionally, we found a selective weakening of STN inputs to PV+ neurons in the chronic 6-hydroxydopamine lesion model of PD. This finding reinforces the idea that the reciprocally connected GPe-STN network plays a key role in disease symptomatology and thus provides the basis for future circuit-based therapies.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT The external pallidum is a key, yet an understudied component of the basal ganglia. Neural activity in the pallidum goes awry in neurologic diseases, such as Parkinson's disease. While this strongly argues that the pallidum plays a critical role in motor control, it has been difficult to establish the causal relationship between pallidal activity and motor function/dysfunction. This was in part because of the cellular complexity of the pallidum. Here, we showed that the two principal neuron types in the pallidum have opposing roles in motor control. In addition, we described the differences in their synaptic influence. Importantly, our research provides new insights into the cellular and circuit mechanisms that explain the hypokinetic features of Parkinson's disease.

Keywords: 6-OHDA; Parkinson's disease; basal ganglia; globus pallidus; motor control; subthalamic nucleus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / pathology
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena
  • Female
  • Globus Pallidus / cytology
  • Globus Pallidus / physiology*
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Nerve Net / cytology
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Optogenetics
  • Parvalbumins / genetics*
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / cytology
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Npas1 protein, mouse
  • Parvalbumins